Albert Pujols returns to Busch Stadium on Monday as a proud and productive member of the Los Angeles Dodgers. He’s rejuvenated. Definitely relevant. Highly respected by his teammates. Within the Dodger clubhouse he’s praised as an energy source and guardian of high standards. He’ll be a presence again in the postseason. He’s Albert all over again.

More like the strong and Hall of Fame-bound St. Louis version of Pujols than the weakened and misused Anaheim version of Pujols. The Dodgers knew what Pujols would bring: a championship pedigree, and a bat that brutally wallops left-handed pitching. It’s been a perfect fit.

Pujols, 41, was released by the Angels on May 13 and signed by the Dodgers on May 17. He went from loserville to Dodgertown, from an also-ran existence to the October eminence of Dodger Blue. His star faded with the Angels. His star is aglow in LA. Sadness and frustration were cleared out, and Pujols found happiness and success and in his new baseball station in Southern California.

“To play for our club, we expect performance so that was the bet,” Dodgers manager Roberts said recently. “So to know that and to expect him to come in here and impact our club offensively and to see it play out as such is great. In the clubhouse, what he’s done for some veteran guys, younger players, pitchers, relievers, all of the above, he’s impacted in some way shape or form. He’s been a game changer.

Pujols has blasted LH pitching since signing with the Dodgers. Entering a crucial three-game weekend series at San Francisco, Pujols was batting .309 with a .350 onbase percentage and .596 slugging percentage in 100 plate appearances against lefties. And this hitting huzza includes a .444 batting average and 1.257 OPS against LHP with runners in scoring position.

Pujols’ career stalled with the Angels. It’s been reanimated by the Dodgers. He’s adding to a Hall of Fame collection of platinum numbers that feature 2,145 runs batted in (third all-time), 6,030 total bases (fourth), 1,365 extra-base hits (fourth), 672 doubles (fourth), 677 homers (fifth) and 3,295 hits (12th).

Not to mention three National League MVP awards, 10 All-Star Game selections, two Gold Gloves, two Silver Sluggers, two Hank Aaron awards, an NL batting title, the Roberto Clemente award, and the 2001 Rookie of the Year honor.

The Cardinals and their fans had the good fortune to benefit from the finest 11 seasons of Albert’s career. He was the franchise’s best hitter since Stan Musial, and one of the most prolific winners to wear the Birds on the Bat. From 2001 through 2011, the Pujols Cardinals made the postseason seven times in 11 years and won three NL pennants and two World Series.

Pujols signed an amazing 10-year, $240 million contract to jump from the Cardinals to the Angels a few weeks after St. Louis celebrated the 2011 World Series title. When the Dodgers take the field at Busch on Monday afternoon, it will be Pujols’ second visit to St. Louis as a player since leaving St. Louis as a franchise icon.

The Angels appeared here in June 2019, and the weekend immediately turned into a festival of love and celebration. Are we in for a sequel? Pujols Woodstock II. Pujols Lollapalooza II.

Will the warm sentiment that filled Busch during the Pujols 2019 homecoming return in human form and put more bodies into all of the empty seats that have become part of the stadium scenery in 2021? I don’t know, but here’s a clue: the Cardinals are selling tickets to this set with the Dodgers for only $5.50.

Perhaps Pujols can enliven the setting and give bored St. Louis fans that loving feeling again. Other than Adam Wainwright pitching to Yadier Molina, nothing has created a buzz that circulated when fans and media began speculating about a Pujols return to his true baseball home after the Angels coldly dumped him.

Pujols needed a new place to stay, and the St. Louis baseball legion was prepared to open its arms and heart to embrace Albert anew. That didn’t happen; the Dodgers clearly had a better job — a substantially larger role — to offer. The Cardinals already had a very good first baseman in Paul Goldschmidt, and there was no realistic possibility of a platoon-type situation at first.

And Pujols doesn’t want to live on the bench and waste his remaining and dwindling time in this game that he loves so dearly. And he craves action. Taking occasional swings as a pinch-hitter of filling in twice a month for Goldy wouldn’t satisfy his desire for an important role.

The Cardinals didn’t have much of a job to present to Pujols, and he made the 100 percent correct decision to go with the Dodgers. We should table the 2022 Pujols-STL possibility for a while; without a DH it wouldn’t work.

Albert is on the way.

Let’s prepare by reviewing The 20 Stages Of Divorce And Reconciliation:

1) Hope and optimism: Pujols said he wanted to be a Cardinal for life, and really wanted to stay here. So surely he would be a Cardinal for life, just like Musial and Gibson. Right? … no, seriously … right? Albert wouldn’t really go, right? Bill DeWitt Jr., hello? DeWitt will take care of this, right?

2) Sudden alarm: What the heck is this report of the Angels rushing in out of nowhere to crash the STL-Pujols negotiations in the late stages to pitch an insanely high offer? Must be a bad rumor.

3) Shock: He’s gone. He’s really, really gone. The Angels gave him 10 years, $240 million and a personal-services contract for 10 years after that. Angels owner Arte Moreno pulled it off.

4) Blame and confusion: who do we blame? DeWitt Jr? Albert Pujols? Mrs. Pujols? John Mozeliak? The player’s agent? Who let this happen? Who made this happen? I need a name, dammit. Give us the name.

5) Anger: DeWitt and Mozeliak took heat at first. But then Pujols and wife Deidre started saying things in interviews that didn’t go over so well in St. Louis, and the fury was redirected to Orange County. A statue came down. A restaurant was renamed and repurposed. Albert Who? He blew his chance to be seated next to Stan the Man in St. Louis Baseball Heaven. Albert Who?

6) Hello, Carlos Beltran! We don’t Need Pujols. We’ll be OK without Pujols. Maybe this will work out better than we think. Pujols got off to a terrible start with the Angels in 2012 (hah-hah), Beltran beautifully filled the lineup void, and the Cardinals continued to win. Reached the NLCS in 2012. Won the NL pennant in 2013. Reached the NLCS in 2014. Won 100 games in 2015. And the Angels made the playoffs only one time with Pujols during this stretch, getting swept in three games by the Royals in their 2014 NLDS. Pujols and the Angels never made the postseason again until his release early this season.

7) You know what? The Cardinals lucked out, didn’t they? Pujols is starting to show signs of age-related decline, and the team around him is lousy except for this young dude named Mike Trout. What was Arte Moreno thinking? This is turning into one of the worst contracts in baseball history. And the Cardinals are still winning. With the compensatory draft choices collected after the Pujols signing, the Cardinals drafted starting pitcher Michael Wacha and outfielder Stephen Piscotty. Sweet!

8) Whew: Still can’t believe the Angels gave Pujols $240 million. St. Louis got the best 11 years of his career; Arte Moreno threw away a ton of money to buy the worst years of Albert’s career. What if Pujols had accepted the Cardinals’ 10-year offer instead? Can you imagine? It would have been a disaster for this franchise. He would have crushed the payroll, and the Cardinals would have suffered for that. Really suffered, for years and years.

9) The anger fades, the chortling subsides, and hearts begin to warm: Hey, it’s really cool to see Albert getting to 500 homers, 3,000 hits, then 600 homers. He’s reaching milestones left and right. What a player. What a career. We’re so happy for him. And let’s admit something: we kinda miss him. It’s just a shame that it didn’t work out. It would have been really nice to see him hit No. 500 as a Cardinal, and produce his 3,000th hit as a Cardinal. Because we’ll always love him here. It would have meant more to him here. No reason to stay mad. Let’s remember the good times. Albert and the Cardinals did so many fantastic things over 11 years, and we’ll never experience anything like it again. We should be proud of Albert for all that he’s done in this game. We were privileged to witness his excellence on a daily basis.

10) You know, Albert is still one of us: Isn’t it wonderful how Albert and his family live in St. Louis in the offseason? And they’re gracious and generous, doing so much for the kids with down syndrome. His charitable foundation is incredible. What a class act. We’re fortunate to have their presence in our community.

11) The Cardinals are boring. At least Pujols always made it exciting. And we know one thing: even if he’s old now, he would still fire up the team and the fans. If you’re going to have a dull team, then put Pujols on it. It’s not like he’ll make you worse. They haven’t made the playoffs for two seasons now.

12) Another year, no playoffs: It’s becoming the new routine, the new tradition. That’s three years in a row, 2016, and 2017, and 2018. The Cardinals have lost their way. We really have to make sure we appreciate The Pujols Years in St. Louis. Maybe we took him for granted. I hope not.

13) Sigh. Still boring. Good grief: The Cardinals fired Mike Matheny last year and promoted Mike Shildt. Here we are in May of 2019 and this mediocre team has a losing record. When are the Angels coming to Busch Stadium? Can’t wait! They can’t get here soon enough. It’s gonna be great. Seeing Albert back in Busch Stadium. At least we’ll have something to get excited about. I don’t know about you but I think I’m gonna cry.


15) June 22, 2019. HOME RUN! ALBERT HIT A HOME RUN! Everybody up. Show this man how much we love him! Home run! This was meant to be. It just had to happen this way. Oh, Albert. Our Albert. Don’t leave. Let the Angels fly away without you.

16) Sadness. But satisfying sadness: June 23, 2019: Sunday night baseball. Final game of the Angels-Cards series. It’s been one of the most enjoyable, emotional and special weekends of baseball during my lifetime. We don’t even remember why he left and signed with the Angels. We don’t even remember who was at fault. We don’t know why we were so mad. Who cares, anyway? Life is too short. All that matters is Albert still loves us, and we still love him. All is forgiven. It was all forgotten and forgiven years ago. We’ll always be family. I can’t wait for the day he puts on that red jacket. Look … the game is over now, and Albert is hugging Yadi again. They’re taking a photo near home plate. They exchanged jerseys. They’re brothers. We are all family again. This is very special. What an incredible sentimental journey. We’re reunited. Thank you for everything, Mr. Pujols.

17) Yeah, team is boring again:  Didn’t even sell out the postseason home games in 2019. This is a dramatic change from when Albert played here. You couldn’t find a ticket. And empty seats at a postseason home game? I never thought I’d live the day to see something like that. See? Team is boring.

18) Whoa! Did you hear that Pujols is a free agent? The Angels released him. Do you think there’s a chance? Do you think Mozeliak is calling Albert’s agent? Can they make room? Hey, TRADE GOLDY! Well, maybe not that. But is there a way to make this happen?

19) Disappointment: Albert signed with the Dodgers. They don’t need him. They have everything. We need Albert. And I’m not talking about Jeff Albert, either. Why is this dude still the hitting coach? I guess it made sense for Albert Pujols to join the Dodgers. I’m happy for him. It’s a positive situation. He’ll be excited to be with an elite team that has a chance to win it all. He’ll be surrounded by other future Hall of Famers, like Max Scherzer and Clatyon Kershaw and Mookie Betts. It will be fun for him. Just like he had it here, in St. Louis.

20) Pleasant surprise: hey, the Dodgers are coming to St Louis in September for four games. Let’s do this again. Show Albert the love. It will be great to see him again. He’ll be stunned to see so many empty seats in his ballpark. I betcha a lot of fans — those who show up — will root for the Dodgers and Pujols. Maybe it will be the first step in recruiting Pujols to be the Cards’ DH next season. DeWitt? Mozeliak? GM Mike GIRSCH!

Yadier Molina plans to play one more season and call it a career.

With Yadi back, Adam Wainwright is more likely to pitch in 2022.

And if Yadi and Waino are Cardinals in 2022, maybe Albert Pujols will want to join them for a last hurrah — and hit his 700th homer in a Cardinal uniform. And if Albert wants to invite his new buddy Max Scherzer to sign with his hometown Cardinals as a free agent.


Thanks for reading…

Have a happy and relaxing and safe holiday weekend.


Bernie invites you to listen to his opinionated sports-talk show on 590-AM The Fan, KFNS. It airs Monday through Thursday from 3-6 p.m. and Friday from 4-6 p.m. You can listen by streaming online or by downloading the “Bernie Show” podcast at — the 590 app works great and is available in your preferred app store.

The weekly “Seeing Red” podcast with Bernie and Will Leitch is available at

Follow Bernie on Twitter @miklasz

* All stats used here are sourced from FanGraphs, Baseball Reference, Stathead, Bill James Online, Fielding Bible, Baseball Savant and Brooks Baseball Net unless otherwise noted.

Bernie Miklasz

Bernie Miklasz

For the last 36 years Bernie Miklasz has entertained, enlightened, and connected with generations of St. Louis sports fans.

While best known for his voice as the lead sports columnist at the Post-Dispatch for 26 years, Bernie has also written for The Athletic, Dallas Morning News and Baltimore News American. A 2023 inductee into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, Bernie has hosted radio shows in St. Louis, Dallas, Baltimore and Washington D.C.

Bernie, his wife Kirsten and their cats reside in the Skinker-DeBaliviere neighborhood of St. Louis.